The future of Unforgotten Forces has been secured with a £750,000 grant from the Scottish Government
A project which has brought charities together to further support members of the armed forces has received a funding boost.
Unforgotten Forces, a groundbreaking consortium of armed forces and civilian charities working to boost the health and wellbeing of older veterans in Scotland, has started a new phase with a fresh funder and a change of leadership.
A new investment of £750,000 by the Scottish Government will enable the consortium to continue its work up to March 2023, beyond the original three-year funding of £4 million from HM Treasury via the Aged Veterans Fund.
Age Scotland, the national older people’s charity, has taken over responsibility from Poppyscotland for co-ordinating the 15-strong consortium. Poppyscotland had led Unforgotten Forces to award-winning success since 2017 with its delivery of more than 13,000 episodes of support to older veterans.
Unforgotten Forces will continue to provide older veterans in Scotland with practical support, health-related support and information and advice, arts engagement opportunities, as well as opportunities to enjoy friendship and camaraderie to help counter loneliness and social isolation.
Strong joint working relationships and sustainability plans developed in the initial three years will enable the consortium to continue to work effectively with a reduced level of funding. Not every partner is receiving a share of the Scottish Government funding, but all will continue to work closely together to ensure older veterans are aware of and can access support from the consortium, and that support to them is seamless.
Age Scotland chief executive Brian Sloan said: “Being part of Unforgotten Forces has been a tremendous boon, enabling Age Scotland to boost its support for veterans at a time when more than half of them are age 65 and older. It’s an honour to take over the role of Unforgotten Forces co-ordinating partner, and I’d like to thank Poppyscotland for its capable stewardship to date.
"I’m also delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised the value of collaboration between veterans and civilian charities and invested to ensure our consortium can continue to enhance later life for Scotland’s veterans.”
Poppyscotland interim chief executive Mark Collins said: “Having established the Unforgotten Forces consortium and secured the initial funding, we have been delighted to see the impact it has had on the lives of so many older veterans over the past three years. Partnership working lies at the heart of Poppyscotland’s approach and it is especially pleasing to have seen so many like-minded organisations join forces in this ground-breaking way.
"An older veteran reaching out to one of its partner organisations means they are, in effect, reaching out to all partners in the consortium. This approach was recognised when the consortium received the 2019 Soldiering On Award for enduring commitment and collaborative approach to supporting the sector within the wider community.
“Age Scotland have been one of the leading lights of Unforgotten Forces to date and we look forward to playing a very active role in supporting them as they lead the consortium forward in the years ahead. Many more older veterans need our collective support and while there is much success to celebrate, there remains more work to be done.”
Veterans minister Graeme Dey MSP said: “The work the Unforgotten Forces charities are doing for Scotland’s community of older veterans is having a remarkable and positive impact and I have great admiration for them.
“I’m delighted we have been able to confirm the Scottish Government’s provision of £750,000 of funding in support of the consortium over the next three years. The excellent nature of the projects now being co-ordinated through Age Scotland shows just why that was so important.”